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Africa by David Diop

“Africa,” a poem by French-African poet David Diop, paints a complete picture of Africa, including its pre-colonial glory and colonial suffering as the nation traversed a difficult journey through time and evolution. The poem expresses a hope; a hope for a post-colonial Africa that can spring beautifully like a flower after finally being freed from the heavy, corroded chains of oppression. Diop regularly contributed to the Négritude literary movement. His poems, like “Africa,” also known as “Africa my Africa,” are considered a piece of protest against the oppressive French colonial rule. He supported the African liberation movements and had empathy for all his fellow brothers and sisters fighting for freedom. His emotions related to the freedom and independence of Africa are what he explores in this poem.

● Read the full text of “Africa” below:

Africa
by David Diop

Africa my Africa
Africa of proud warriors in ancestral savannahs
Africa of whom my grandmother sings
On the banks of the distant river
I have never known you
But your blood flows in my veins
Your beautiful black blood that irrigates the fields
The blood of your sweat
The sweat of your work
The work of your slavery
Africa, tell me Africa
Is this your back that is unbent
This back that never breaks under the weight of humiliation
This back trembling with red scars
And saying no to the whip under the midday sun
But a grave voice answers me
Impetuous child that tree, young and strong
That tree over there
Splendidly alone amidst white and faded flowers
That is your Africa springing up anew
springing up patiently, obstinately
Whose fruit bit by bit acquires
The bitter taste of liberty.

- from Hammer Blows and Other Writings (1973)
Analysis of Africa by David Diop


Summary

In this poem, Diop addresses Africa as a human being as he calls out to the nation’s past, present, and future. He does so with a voice that is filled with longing and nostalgia. Diop was born to French West African parents, and this poem contains that sense of bonding and emotion Diop had felt his entire life towards the African soil. The history of Africa flows through his blood; even though he had been born in France and lived most of his life there, the land remained close to his identity and his being. That is, specifically, what he tries to express in the poem through his poetic persona.

The torture inflicted upon his ancestors by the colonizers is described through the haunting imagery of slavery. Despite the presence of brutal realities, there is hope at the end of the poem, like a light the speaker sees at the end of a dark tunnel. With a metaphor of a “young” tree, he expresses a belief that Africa will grow again and taste the glory of bittersweet freedom. He believes that the colonizers will give up one day, and the colonized will rise to gain independence and finally establish themselves as culturally conscious, confident citizens of a free nation.

Structure, Form, & Rhyme Scheme

Diop’s “Africa” consists of a total of twenty-three lines with no stanza breaks in between. It is written in free verse without a fixed rhyme scheme or meter. This patriotic lyric is composed out of one speaker’s devotion to their motherland, Africa. The speaker is the poet himself. He writes this piece from the first-person point of view and expresses his underlying rage for the colonial rule in Africa and how desperately he desires to see a free and firm nation. It is important to note that the overall poem does not contain any punctuation between the lines or at the end to hinder the flow. It can be read like a long, ongoing address to the nation.

There is no specific rhyme scheme in the poem. However, readers can find internal rhymings in lines 17 and 21: “young” and “strong”; “patiently” and “obstinately”. There is another internal rhyming in words “bit” and “bitter”. Diop also uses repetition and alliteration to create internal rhythm.

Literary Devices & Figures of Speech

Diop uses a number of poetic devices to make this lyric more appealing to readers. The use of figurative language not only heightens the speaker’s love for his motherland but also his pain for his fellow citizens’ suffering. The important devices used in the poem are exemplified below:

Personification

The speaker attributes Africa with human characteristics. Firstly, he infuses life into the abstract idea of a nation and enables it with the capability of listening: “Africa my Africa.” This impassioned plea is heightened with the representation of personified Africa as a mother whose “blood,” according to the speaker, “flows in my veins”. He feels inspired when he sees her unyielding spirit “that never breaks under the weight of humiliation” though her back trembles “with red scars”. In this way, Diop personifies his nation, and later in lines 16-23, he incorporates omniscience into the abstract idea.

Apostrophe

Diop uses this poetic device to personify Africa. In the very first line, he addresses the nation, “Africa my Africa,” with passion. Again, in line 11, he implores, “Africa, tell me Africa.” In these lines, Diop uses apostrophe by evoking the spirit of his mother nation.

Metaphor

Diop uses metaphors in order to draw comparisons between two distant ideas. For example, Diop’s persona compares “blood” to water in the line, “You beautiful black blood that irrigates the fields”. The next line, “The blood of your sweat,” contains another metaphor. Here the term “blood” is synonymous with an untiring attitude and their will force that reflects in Africans “sweat”.

The “young and strong” tree is a metaphor for Africa: “That is your Africa springing up anew,” and “liberty” is compared to bitter fruit. Its taste is ironically bitter as liberty is hard to obtain. The path to freedom is not an easy one; people have to pledge their lives for the sake of liberty and struggle tirelessly until the goal is achieved. Therefore, the fruit of liberty may taste sweet, but the journey is undoubtedly “bitter”.

Alliteration

Alliteration is when there is a repetition of identical sounds at the beginning of adjacent words. It is used for the enhancement of the rhythm of the lines. Examples of alliteration include:

  • never known” (line 5)
  • But your blood” (line 6)
  • beautiful black blood” (line 7)
  • back that never breaks” (line 13)
  • faded flowers” (line 19)
  • bit by bit” (line 22)

Besides, readers can find consonance and assonance in the poem.

Consonance

The repetition of the same consonant sound in closely placed words can be found in the following examples:

  • “Africa of proud warriors in ancestral savannahs”
  • back that is unbent”
  • “under the midday sun”
  • “young and strong
  • bitter taste of liberty”

Assonance

The recurrence of the same vowel sound in neighboring words can also be found in the poem. It occurs in:

  • Africa my Africa”
  • “But your blood”
  • “black blood”
  • irrigates the fields”
  • “trembling with red”
  • “grave voice answers”
  • alone amidst”
  • “patiently, obstinately

Allusion

Allusion occurs when something significant is indirectly hinted at through a phrase. It develops an understanding that becomes important to fully appreciate a text’s depths and layers. For instance, Diop alludes to the glorious past of African tribal culture in the line, “Africa of proud warriors in ancestral savannahs,” and describes how the ancestors fought against the expansion of European powers on their soil.

The line “On the banks of the distant river” is an allusion to the Garonne river of Southwestern France. Diop was born and brought up in Bordeaux, a port city on the Garonne bank.

Line 10, “The work of your slavery,” is another reference to the custom of slavery and how Africans were bought and sold by colonizers. The torturous events of slavery are captured through the lines:

Is this your back that is unbent

This back that never breaks under the weight of humiliation

This back trembling with red scars

And saying no to the whip under the midday sun

Repetition

From the very beginning, Diop employs this device in order to make his appeal to his nation more emotive. He repeats the term “Africa” in the first three lines to evoke her spirit. In lines 6-8, he emphasizes the term “blood”, a symbol of national identity. This repetition creates a resonance of the poet’s African identity.

Again in lines 12-14, the word “back” is emphasized to draw readers’ attention to the sufferings of Africans as enslaved people. Another repetition occurs when the speaker uses the term “tree” twice in lines 17-18 and the term “springing” in lines 20-21.

Anaphora

Anaphora occurs when consecutive lines begin with a similar word or phrase to emphasize specific ideas. For instance, the first three lines of the poem begin with the word “Africa”. In lines 8-10, Diop uses the same poetic technique in order to emphasize the inherent power within Africans. These lines begin with the term “The”. Later, in lines 13 and 14, the speaker emphasizes “This back” to portray the torture inflicted upon enslaved people vividly:

This back that never breaks under the weight of humiliation

This back trembling with red scars

Anadiplosis

It’s a type of anaphora where a phrase or word at the end of a line is repeated at the beginning of the following line to create an interconnection. It occurs in lines 8-10:

The blood of your sweat

The sweat of your work

The work of your slavery

Metonymy

The term “blood” is a metonym for African identity. Diop focuses on this particular term in order to incorporate the essence of the Négritude movement, aiming to raise and cultivate “Black consciousness” and African identity. The term “back” is another metonym (or symbol) for Africans’ unyielding spirit. Diop employs the variation: a symbol for the thing symbolized in these examples.

In the line, “And saying no the whip under the midday sun,” the “whip” represents the slavers, and the “midday sun” is a reference to the scorching heat of the sun. Besides, the term “Africa” represents Africans, and the variety used here is the container for the thing contained.

Rhetorical Question

Though the line, “Is this your back that is unbent,” does not contain a question mark at the end, it is an example of a rhetorical question. The speaker asks this question to his nation or fellow citizens emotively. The answer lies in the question itself that is the back of his nation never breaks.

Line-by-Line Analysis & Explanation

Lines 1-3

Africa my Africa

Africa of proud warriors in ancestral savannahs

Africa of whom my grandmother sings

In the first four lines of the poem, Diop expresses his love for Africa. He is aware of his lineage and became familiar with the glorious past of his nation from the tales his grandmother used to tell. That had made him keep the essence of Africa alive.

He evokes the spirit of Africa and proclaims his identity: Africa is his own, its people are his own. No matter how colonizers see his country, he still takes pride in being an African. The sense of cultural consciousness is there in his mind, and the bond with his actual nation can never be broken. He also takes pride in the spirit of tribal warriors who bravely fought in the open savannahs and tried to obstruct the invasion of heavily equipped colonizers. Though they were under-equipped had traditional weapons, they still fought back to protect their soil.

Lines 4-6

On the banks of the distant river

I have never known you

But your blood flows in my veins

The country “on the banks of the distant river” is where Diop was born and brought up. He spent the most part of his life in Bordeaux, in Southwestern France. In his sojourn in a foreign land (ironically that of the French colonizers), he never came to know about his nation’s glory. The foreign banks of the Garonne river somewhat made him forget about his nation. As he says so, his voice sounds sad and reverberates the aching of his heart.

The speaker has never known Africa, having lived in France, but he is aware of the African “blood” gushing through his veins. Diop symbolizes the “blood” as his true African identity. Like blood caters sustenance to the body, the sense of cultural consciousness keeps his spirit alive. Else, his mind will become a hybrid of foreign culture and the broken remnants of his own.

Lines 7-10

Your beautiful black blood that irrigates the fields

The blood of your sweat

The sweat of your work

The work of your slavery

In these lines, Diop addresses Africa as a human being representing all colonized Africans who irrigated fields for their white masters by putting in back-breaking labor. The colonizers and their superiority complex subjugated them and their culture. The repetition of the term “blood” creates a resonance of one of the main themes, cultural identity. Diop refers to the beauty of their culture as well as identity. The blood that flows in his veins is the same that runs through all the Africans, who toil under the scorching sun, work tirelessly, and serve under European slavers. In this way, Diop binds all the Africans with the thin thread of equality. The African farmers, enslaved people, and even the well-off intellectuals living abroad are all equal. They are Africans.

Lines 11-15

Africa, tell me Africa

Is this your back that is unbent

This back that never breaks under the weight of humiliation

This back trembling with red scars

And saying no to the whip under the midday sun

With another impassioned address to his mother nation, the speaker asks her a rhetorical question. He says whether her back is unbent under gruesome torture. Through this line, the speaker refers to the slaves carrying the burden of lifelong “humiliation” on their back sored “with red scars”. Despite the tortures, their back remains “unbent”. They carry the courage within their heart to say no to the “whip” representing brutal colonizers. Their “whip”, an instrument of torture, was brought down upon them frequently to punish them for not meeting their disproportionate demands. Despite the pain and suffering, Africa will not fear to fight back.

Lines 16-23

But a grave voice answers me

Impetuous child that tree, young and strong

That tree over there

Splendidly alone amidst white and faded flowers

That is your Africa springing up anew

springing up patiently, obstinately

Whose fruit bit by bit acquires

The bitter taste of liberty.

While the speaker thinks about Africa’s pain under colonial rule, a voice reaches out to him. She points towards a tree, “young and strong”, standing “amidst white and faded flowers”, to say that it is the Africa he is searching for. The phrase “white and faded flowers” portrays the colonizers’ culture in the dim light in order to contrast the glow of his own culture. Besides, the tree represents the nascent state of African nationalism that was “alone” amidst the dominant European culture in the latter half of the 20th-century.

Like a perennial tree, Africa will grow slowly but steadily. Its fruits will obtain “the bitter taste of liberty” gradually. The fruits of the tree represent Africans who will slowly cultivate a sense of nationalism, black consciousness, and, most importantly, liberty within their hearts. Then the time will come when they will rise up to assert what is their own. These lines provide a sense of assurance and hope to the Africans that no matter what, the sense of freedom will flourish in their hearts with time.

Themes

Identity & Nationalism

In “Africa,” Diop reminisces about the marvelous land of his ancestors and the history that has been passed down to the generations and finally reached him. He feels one-half of himself is in his homeland, Africa, even though he has neither lived in Africa nor fully experienced what it means to be an African living under colonial rule. In admiration of his fellow Africans, he paints a vivid picture of their resilience and persistence in the face of suffering and pain. Diop’s poetic voice is also filled with longing for a free, self-sufficient Africa that will grow uninhibitedly, breaking the shackles of slavery.

Africa was colonized for an extended period. While Diop was writing this poem, imperialism was at its height in Africa. Protests and liberation movements were on the rise, and Diop, even being in France, showed his support for such revolutionary events through writing. That’s why one of the major themes of this poem is nationalism. Through this poem, he tries to say that Africans would no longer be oppressed. The theme of nationalism is explored through the reference to history (lines 2-3), identity (or “blood”), collective sense (lines 7-10), and pride (lines 12-15).

Colonization & Suffering

Diop’s “Africa” is a protest against the atrocities of colonizers. Economic exploitation was at the heart of the imperialist discourse. It showcased the true face of colonization. White colonizers, for their own profit, dominated African nations and propagated the narrative of superiority by calling the natives primitive and savage. The poem brings attention to such a selfish side of human nature and the cultural darkness that was spread across the European colonies. The physical and mental torture inflicted upon the Africans was inhumane. However, Diop portrays their suffering in a positive light in order to inspire the spirit of Africans. No matter how cruel the colonizers are, the African “back” can never be bent.

Cultural Heritage

Diop explores the theme of cultural heritage in this poem. He alludes to the courage of tribal warriors who bravely fought against the colonial invasion. His grandmother sings in praise of Africa. It means that Africans still took pride in their history even if they were dominated by an alien culture and portrayed as an inferior race. Besides, the poet also depicts the tightly knit communities of agrarian Africa and how they toiled together. Even as slaves, their spirit was unbroken. Whenever the speaker thinks about his country, he is reminded of its cultural heritage that includes the rich savannahs, its peace-loving agricultural communities, and its flora.

History of Africa

Another important theme of this poem is history. The speaker takes pride in his nation’s glorious past. Through the songs of his grandmother, he came to know about the courage of tribal fighters who tried to stop the colonizers. This poem shows the brief history of Africa before and after colonization. Before colonization, Africa was a self-sufficient nation. Afterward, when colonizers came, they undermined the indigenous culture, traditions, and lives. The effect of colonization upon Africans is portrayed in the following lines:

Your beautiful black blood that irrigates the fields

The blood of your sweat

The sweat of your work

The work of your slavery

Africa, tell me Africa

Is this your back that is unbent

This back that never breaks under the weight of humiliation

This back trembling with red scars


Symbolism

Diop employs several symbols in this poem. Some of the important symbols include:

  • Black Blood: The “beautiful black blood” of Africa is symbolic of identity. The later lines describe the painful lives of Africans as enslaved people.
  • Back: In the line, “Is this your back that is unbent,” the term “back” symbolizes the African spirit that is unconquerable and firm. It never breaks or bends.
  • Whip: The “whip” is a symbol of slavery. Diop uses this symbol to portray how the instrument is used to torture and inflict physical pain upon slaves.
  • Tree & Fruit: The “tree” in the poem is a symbol for the nation, and its “fruit” represents Africans. The tree that grows “young and strong” among the “faded flowers” is Africa repairing itself slowly after being hacked and exploited by colonizers. The fruit (or Africans) of that tree has to acquire a sense of liberty before finally asserting their right.


Imagery

In “Africa,” Diop uses the following types of imagery:

  • Visual Imagery: This type of imagery engages the sense of sight of readers. For instance, in the second line, Diop vividly portrays the African savannahs: “proud warriors in ancestral savannahs”. Other visual images in this highly descriptive poem include: “On the banks of the distant river,” “This back trembling with red scars,” “That tree over there/ Splendidly alone amidst white and faded flowers”.
  • Tactile Imagery: Diop evokes the sense of touch in the lines, “But your blood flows in my veins”, “This back trembling with red scars/ And saying no to the whip under the midday sun”.
  • Auditory Imagery: This imagery engages the sense of hearing. Some of the auditory imagery used in this poem are: “Africa of whom my grandmother sings”; “And saying no to the whip under the midday sun/ But a grave voice answers me”.
  • Gustatory Imagery: This type of imagery is used in the last line, “The bitter taste of liberty”. The speaker refers to the taste of a bitter fruit as the taste of liberty.


Tone & Mood

The tone of the poem is filled with the poet’s admiration and empathy for Africa and its people. His voice reflects a sense of nostalgia for its past. When the speaker thinks about the suffering of enslaved people, his tone turns sad yet reflects a sense of pride. The positive depiction of the African spirit creates a hopeful mood. While the lines, “This back that never breaks under the weight of humiliation/ This back trembling with red scars”, make the mood emotional as if the speaker is mourning for Africans’ suffering as slaves. He is also hopeful about their future; Africans will no longer be oppressed as the sense of liberty gradually grows within their hearts.

Setting

Diop wrote this poem while he was in Bordeaux, France. The poem is set in a foreign land. It presents a speaker who nostalgically thinks about his nation, Africa, and describes his steadfast love for his country. The distance may be too long to overcome, but the bond is stronger to undermine. As the poem progresses, the speaker finds himself amidst the African savannahs, their lands, and a land where the “tree” grows among “white and faded flowers”.

Historical Background

The poem “Africa,” also known by its first line, “Africa my Africa,” was first published in French as “Afrique” in David Diop’s only collection of poetry, Coups de pilon (“Pounding”) in 1956. It was published by the Pan-African quarterly literary magazine Présence Africaine. This journal was highly influential in the Pan-Africanist movement, the decolonization struggle of former French colonies, and the Negritude movement. Diop’s works, including the collection, were posthumously published as Hammer Blows and Other Writings in 1973, translated and edited by Simon Mpondo and Frank Jones. The translated poem is taken from this book.

In this poem, Diop, sitting in France, expresses his admiration for Africa. He became “the voice of the people without voice”, such as enslaved and colonized Africans. He was a prominent figure of the Négritude movement, which was in vehement opposition to colonialism. His Coups de Pilon poems, including “Africa,” kindle the hope for free Africa and show his detestation toward the colonizers. The pride in the African spirit, an assertion of African identity, ideas of home, and a sense of belonging are part of this piece.

Questions and Answers

Explain David Diop’s “Africa” as a Négritude poem.

David Diop’s poem was first published in the Négritude journal Présence Africaine. It’s one of his Coups de pilon (1956) poems that protest and depict the evils of slavery and colonialism. The Négritude literary movement was developed mainly by francophone intellectuals of Africa during the 1930s. Négritude writers of African diaspora raised and cultivated a sense of “Black consciousness” through their works in order to kindle the fire of nationalism and liberty within the hearts of the enslaved and colonized. Diop’s “Africa,” written in the 1950s at the height of the movement, significantly features the Négritude themes of black identity, ideas of nation and home, and the sense of belonging. This poem is about the poet’s unshakable love for Africa and his hope for a free nation.

What is the poem “Africa” by David Diop all about?

“Africa” by David Diop is all about the poet’s love for Africa. While writing this poem, he was in France, yet his bond with the African soil was strong enough to compel him to write this poem. In this poem, he talks about the “blood” (the bond) he shares with his country and his fellow countrymen who are either enslaved by Europeans or colonized. He empathizes with their suffering and says their spirit is “unbent” even though they are tortured. A voice (probably of personified Africa) directs him to see the “tree” representing the nation that grows in a steady and headstrong way. Slowly its fruits, a metaphor for Africans, obtain the taste of liberty. Thus, Diop expresses his hope for a free Africa.

Analyze the style of writing in “Africa my Africa”.

David Diop’s “Africa my Africa” is a passionate ode to the spirit of the nation. There are three shifts in the poem. In the first part (lines 1-10), Diop establishes his deep bond with the nation that never got disconnected in the foreign land. The second part (lines 11-15) is about slavery. In the last shift (lines 16-23), an omniscient voice recites the prelude to freedom to the speaker. In this way, Diop talks about why he loves Africa, how the African spirit inspires him the most, and why he is hopeful of a free Africa. In order to make his appeal to the nation’s spirit more emotive, he employs frequent repetition and vivid imagery. He also sprinkles figurative devices across the text to make his ideas gripping.

When was “Africa” by David Diop published?

The poem was first published in David Diop’s only collection of poetry in French, Coups de pilon or “Pounding,” in 1956. It was written in the 1950s and first appeared in the literary journal Présence Africaine. The collection was later published in English as Hammer Blows in 1973, translated and edited by Simon Mpondo and Frank Jones.

In “Africa”, what does the poem reveal about David Diop?

The poem reveals David Diop’s deep bond with Africa. Though he lived in France while writing this poem, his love for the nation was unrelenting. The speaker of this poem takes pride in the blood that flows within the hearts of Africans. Therefore he can sympathize and connect with the sufferings of his fellow brothers and sisters. He is not discouraged by the state of Africa rather hopeful about its future.

How does “Africa” by David Diop show the eternal linkage of the living with the dead?

According to Diop, Africa is a land of proud warriors who fought in the savannahs. Their heroic resistance is praised in the songs sung by the speaker’s grandmother. In this way, Diop shows how the dead Africans are eternally linked with the living Africans, who are suffering during colonial rule. The same ancestral blood gushes through their veins.

What does the poem “Africa” by David Diop mean?

This poem is about African culture, history, colonial past, its people, and a sense of liberty Africa will experience in the near future. The title of the poem “Africa” or “Africa my Africa” displays the poet’s love for the nation. Like an ode, it is a meditation upon the inherent African spirit of determination, courage, and resilience. Diop glorifies this spirit throughout the poem and shows how Africa will taste liberty.

What kind of poem is “Africa” by David Diop?

“Africa” is a free-verse lyrical ode to Africa and its people. It consists of a single stanza containing 23 lines. This poem can be regarded partly as a protest poem and partly as a poem of praise to Africa. Through this piece, Diop shows the colonial atrocities and how Africans will remain unbroken in the face of adversities. Thus, he is hopeful that soon, Africans will taste freedom.

What is the message of “Africa” by David Diop?

The message of the poem is embedded in the last few lines. According to Diop, the “tree” representing Africa springs up in new vigor even after being hacked and exploited. It will rise patiently and obstinately. Its fruits, a reference to Africans, will slowly get the sense of liberty and will rise up to claim what is their own.

What does the poem “Africa” by David Diop reveal about the African character?

In this poem, Diop vividly depicts the African character through the personified Africa. According to him, Africans are hardworking. Their will cannot be broken or bent. Even after facing humiliation, their self-confidence neither dims nor trembles. Furthermore, those who are oppressed as enslaved people will claim their rights and fight back when the bitter taste of liberty reaches their souls.

Who speaks in the poem “Africa” by David Diop?

The speaker of the poem is none other than the poet David Diop himself. He uses the first-person point of view to express his love for Africa.

What is the theme of the poem “Africa” by David Diop?

This poem features a number of themes that include identity, nationalism, history, cultural heritage, colonial atrocities, and slavery. The overall poem orbits around the theme of patriotism, the poet’s unshakable devotion for his motherland, Africa.

How did David Diop describe Africa?

In this poem, Diop describes Africa as a unique genderless entity. It represents all Africans as one and binds them with the thread of equality. The Africa of Diop’s dreams includes the rich terrain of savannahs, its proud warriors, the fields, and, most importantly, its determined people. According to him, Africa’s head is bloody yet unbowed. One day it will bear the fruits of freedom, and the bitter taste will reach the souls of his fellow citizens.

Why was the poem “Africa my Africa” written?

When Diop was in West Africa during the French colonial rule, he had a firsthand experience of how colonization worked. It undermined the indigenous culture and treated people as slaves to fuel their machinery. Their fundamental rights were denied and treated like animals. Besides, the economic exploitation also captures his attention. Thus, through writing the poem “Africa”, Diop tried to assert the African identity, the glory of the nation, and its unyielding spirit in order to kindle the fire of nationalism in Africans’ hearts.

Who is the voice behind the text “Africa my Africa”?

The “voice” behind the line, “But a grave voice answers me,” is of the personified Africa. It asserts its omniscience through the reference to the tree that thrives even after getting a thousand cuts.

Who is the target group of readers of the text “Africa my Africa”?

The target group of the poem “Africa my Africa” is all the people of the African diaspora living at home and abroad. This poem appeals to everyone who loves their nation with all its good and bad sides.

What is the speaker’s stand in the poem “Africa my Africa”?

The speaker takes an anti-colonial stand in this poem. Though he does not go into head-on criticism of colonial rule, he expresses his detest towards the atrocities. By highlighting Africans’ suffering, he draws attention to the fact that a thousand blows of oppressors cannot colonize the African spirit. The sense of liberty will definitely reach the people’s hearts, and they will assert their rights.

How does David Diop depict local color in “Africa”?

Diop begins the poem with a golden tinge taken from the African savannahs. The rich yellow terrain of the vast grassland is the inspiration to the poet. He takes pride in the “black” color, which is representative of African identity. Africans should not be ashamed of this color. Instead, they have to wear it like a shield. In the ending lines, Diop depicts a green tree growing amidst white and faded flowers.

What are the speaker’s attitude and values in “Africa”?

The speaker’s attitude in the poem is subjective. There are emotive terms, repetitions, and a sense of personal bonding. The poem begins with an attitude of pride, sorrow, and empathy. From line 16, the attitude shifts to an optimistic tone. The speaker expresses his hope for a free Africa. The overall poem is based on the values of empathy, freedom, equality, and justice.

What moral lesson does the poem “Africa” convey?

The moral lesson of the poem concerns Africans must not lose faith in their identity and culture. No matter what the colonizers portray about their culture and history, they must take pride in what is their own. Another moral lesson is that liberty is the essence of one’s holistic growth. Thus, the sense of liberty should never be discouraged.

How does Diop celebrate his love for Africa in the poem “Africa”?

Diop celebrates his love for Africa by saying that though in the distant shore of France he never knew Africa, its blood still runs in his veins. His African identity is alive even though he lives mainly in the colonizer’s country. He loves the way Africans react in the face of humiliation. Their back remains straight and unbowed. This unyielding spirit is what inspires the poet most.

Why is the taste of liberty bitter?

Liberty is never tasted in complacence and rest. People have to agitate until freedom is achieved. Several lives will perish, and people will suffer, yet their determination should not dim. Thus, the bitter journey to freedom is what enhances the sweetness of success.

What is the dream shared by David Diop at the end of “Africa”?

The poet believes that a day will come when Africa will finally be free and grow beautifully despite its horrific past, reclaiming its pre-colonial glory. It will establish itself as an equal nation consisting of free and confident individuals. This dream is shared through the symbol of the tree and fruit.

How does the poem “Africa” talk about colonial atrocities?

Diop felt an inherent connection with Africa and hence empathized with its people. He was aware of what Africans faced during colonial rule: the back-breaking labor as slaves, whiplashes, and humiliation. Colonizers treated them as degenerate human beings, thus showering their cruelty to “civilize” them. The glaring “red scars” on Africa’s back show the extent to which they went to keep the colonized in line.


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  • Freedom” by Rabindranath Tagore — In this poem, Tagore addresses the need for freedom in its entirety.
  • To a Dark Girl” by Gwendolyn Bennett — This poem features the themes of black identity, cultural consciousness, and beauty.
  • Song for a Dark Girl” by Langston Hughes — This poem is about a girl whose lover is lynched to death.
  • Spiritual Song of the Aborigine” by Hyllus Maris — In this poem, Maris features the indigenous Australian identity and how they are spiritually connected with their nation.


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